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Flexibility and the PSAT/SAT: Testing Accommodations

Accommodations PSAT SAT The College Board

When I was in high school, many moons ago, The College Board seemed like an enemy who made me take tests, scored the tests, and then sent those test scores to colleges. Actually, back then, I think that is all that they did. My, how times have changed (I sound so old). The College Board still gives tests and sends out scores, but now they have resources to help with the process of continuing your education after high school. Let’s take a quick look at The College Board and what they do.

The College Board is a not-for-profit organization, most widely known for administering the PSAT/SAT and AP Exams. The organization may seem like a scary foe, but I’ve learned that they are here to help. The more research I do, the most I realize that these exams are useful tools to show what you know and to help in choosing the right college. When you approach the exams from this point of view, they seem less intimidating. I believe that there is a post-high school option for everyone and The College Board exams can help in making that decision. Going straight to a 4-year university gets drilled into our heads early on, but that’s just one option. Heck, I do it to my own kids. We wear our Stanford gear and drive up to Palo Alto for football games. Then, the kids talk about what it will be like when they’re Stanford students. The reality is that they probably won’t be offered admission to this elite school and they might not even want to head down that path. That’s okay. There is an option for everyone.

However, most colleges require students to take the SAT. So, if you want the option to consider a 4-year school, you’ll need to take it. What about students with disabilities? Well, the College Board’s Services for Students with Disabilities (SSD) can help. They have a super website and provide lots of guidance ( Here’s just a bit of the information available. Please, keep in mind that this information is subject to change. So, don’t make any decisions on plans based on what you read here. Consult The College Board directly for the most accurate and current information.

  1.  Accommodations are available for the PSAT 8/9, PSAT/NMSQT, PSAT 10, and SAT.
  2.  Some typical accommodations are extended time, extra & extended breaks, a computer for essays, reading and seeing accommodations, and use of a four function calculator. These are some commonly used accommodations, but all requests are considered.
  3.  Before any accommodation is used, it must be approved by The College Board. Use of accommodations without approval voids (cancels) scores.
  4.  Work with the SSD coordinator at your high school. Accommodations aren’t approved automatically and there is a process. The SSD coordinator will have access to the online application program.
  5.   To be approved, a student must meet the following criteria: have a documented disability, participation in the College Board exam is impacted by their disability, the accommodations is needed, and the accommodation(s) is also received on school tests.
  6.  Start the process early. It can take up to 7 weeks for approval. SSD online has specific deadlines for requests for accommodations. The deadlines are about 2 months prior to the test administration dates. Starting the application process early also leaves you a little bit of wiggle room, just in case additional documentation is requested or there is an error.
  7. The good news is that once you’ve been approved for accommodations for one test, you do not need to submit another request for future tests (unless you want to request a new/different accommodation).
  8. Students receiving accommodations will receive an SSD number. This number will be used when registering for the SAT. Students taking the PSAT 10 or PSAT/NMSQT will need to tell their school that they have accommodations.

I hope this brief overview has given you an understanding of The College Board and the support that is available. Please, visit the Services for Students with Disabilities website for the most complete and accurate information. Thanks for reading and if you have any feedback, please it in the comment section below.   

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    Good information. Thanks for taking the time to help with learning the ropes!

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